While he is only a part of a collective that has spanned generations and many decades,

few will deny the unique, lasting impact of Mandela’s name on the global campaign to place a human rights spotlight on apartheid

South Africa – as well as his role in isolating the state and pressurising it to end its system of racial segregation and oppression.

Mandela will forever be remembered as the guardian of South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution and Bill of Rights.

 His tireless fight for human rights and social justice has already been recorded in volumes of journals,

magazines, academic papers and books sitting in scores of public and private libraries, book stores, shelves, coffee tables around the world.

Even the music world has honoured him with songs spanning various continents and many languages to celebrate the man that he was.

But what do we really mean when we refer to Nelson Mandela as the guardian of South Africa’s Constitution?


Considering all the ill-informed, contemporary, revisionist commentary with regard

to the role played by former President Nelson Mandela in the period leading up to,

A SINGLE CITIZENSHIP during and following the adoption of South Africa’s interim and final Constitutions, it is necessary to return to the socio-economic

and political context that prevailed in South Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Many current-day commentators, especially those who are young and were not around during those early days,

tend to neglect the determinant role of context on the decisions taken in those days.

Some forget the key focus and aims of the multi-party negotiations that paved the way to our postapartheid constitutional dispensation,

A SINGLE CITIZENSHIP thus enabling South Africa to avoid an inevitable civil war.

What can be said with absolute certainty, however, is that the environment in the country in the period leading to and during the early 1990s was very volatile.

 Many people lost their lives in hostels across South Africa, in townships adjacent to hostels, in commuter trains,

their homes and other places where they were attacked by factions supporting rival political formations.

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